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2000 AD Prog Slog

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 1.17

The difference between The Megazine from when Steve McManus edited it and David Bishop taking over is difficult not to notice. It’s like a plaster being pulled off. A few months ago, it was a tight, firmly muscled, focused machine, now it’s a directionless, flabby, unshaven lump. It was during Bishop’s reign that I stopped buying The Megazine and later, 2000 AD, where the love affair ended. At one time, I was so enraged by what I felt was the erosion of the 2000 AD line that I wrote an article for Tripwire Magazine titled Bashing the Bishop. (I still have a copy of it filed away but I’m so mortified by the memory of that piece that I can’t bring myself to re-read it even as research for my own blog). Now, for The Slog and with the benefit of hindsight, it is going to be interesting to discover how reasonable my criticism of his era actually was.

Middenface McNulty does look as though it’s been done in a rush. Heavy Metal Dredd is a reprint. Judge Dredd Raptaur might look good but at seven episodes long it has over run by at least five. And talking of strips that outstay their welcome, there’s The Straitjacket Fits. Set in a Brit-Cit mental asylum, it’s meant to be a comedy, drawn by Roger Langridge and written by David Bishop.

Firstly, let’s not dwell on the fact that The Straitjacket Fits is being written by the editor between answering telephone calls during his day job when the space could be used for something by a writer who does it for a living. 2000 AD editorial staff have occasionally drifted into writing in the past early in their careers before realising how inappropriate it is. (Even the mightiest of all the Thargs, Steve MacManus, has done it). The Straitjacket Fits doesn’t work because I have little patience for forced zaniness and bad jokes in The Magazine environment. Having the characters in your own strip acknowledge that the jokes are bad doesn’t make it better.

Of course, Langridge’s art goes a long way to redeeming the strip but it’s frustrating with the benefit of having seen Fred the Clown since, that he isn’t also writing it. He’s one of the greatest cartoonists of our time and he seems to be underused here. However, who am I to presume the circumstances under which this working relationship came about? Maybe, Langridge didn’t feel confident enough in his own writing abilities and requested Bishop to script it. And, now that I think about it, it’s clear that Bishop is very fond of the characters that he has helped to create and commissioning Langridge in the first place, a process he must have been involved in, is a tiny act of genius in itself.

I feel bad now.

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5 Comments:

  • Sounds about right.

    By Blogger Mark, at 12:38 am  

  • Or Dave bishop was just a crap writer. I remember disliking the straitjacket fits as seeming like a waste of pages.

    Bishop wrote "Soul Sisters" which starts with vol 2 in a few issues. I remember it as being one of most hated strips in the letter pages despite brilliant kirbyesque art by Shaky Kane

    By Blogger Derek, at 9:57 am  

  • Cheers Mark

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:44 pm  

  • Soul Sisters, Derek - Thanks for reminding me.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:45 pm  

  • Don't feel bad, Paul. I didn't like SJF either, and I even understood the NZ music in-jokes in the title and some of the characters. Langridge certainly had it in him for years before - his Knuckles the Nun (with brother Andrew) small press was brilliant. I do wonder though whether the Bishop-Langridge connection had more to do with two ex-pat Kiwis in London at around the same time working in the same industry and possibly having known each other through the comics/Doctor Who fan community back home. You may see more evidence of this with a further NZer, Scott Gray, in the pages of Doctor Who Magazine in the early years of this decade.

    I liked SJF better than Soul Sisters though. Infinitely so.

    By Blogger Peter A, at 12:35 am  

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